Monday, July 11, 2011

Smithsonian: Boys Love Planes

On Saturday we all piled into our boat of a rental car and headed out for Washington D.C.  I was super excited as I've never been there before!  What a thrill to drive in and see the Washington Monument for the first time!

All the museums have cool art out front!  This is the Air and Space one.

After we found a parking garage (don't be fooled, there is decent parking in DC near the mall!) and ate lunch in a little garden we started in to the Air and Space Museum.  At first glance I thought it would be a lot bigger... but we really only covered the major galleries and a couple of the side ones and spent a large portion of our day there!

Space Ship One

I think you could easily go every day for a week and still not read and take in all the cool stuff they have there!

This is the gondola of the first hot air balloon to circle the globe without stopping. Fascinating stuff!

There was also a very small triangle of moon rock in this main gallery that you could touch!

The museum is very generally divided up into Air and Space sections (left and right) and it goes by era.  We started on the Air side (which is to the left or west end).

The entrance to the WWI gallery

This was one of the galleries we went through more thoroughly and I was surprised at how little I knew.  We focus so much on WWII now that this one gets overshadowed.  There were some major military breakthroughs (first war to use arial stuff) and it was just a very horrific war.  They didn't focus only on the air side, but there was other parts of the history as well.

The Wright Brothers Plane

Of all the galleries in the Air and Space museum this was my favorite.  The lighting was soft and the central focus was the plane itself.  There were also the most interactive displays in this room.  There was even a video simulation of the 4 flights they made on the very first day proving that they could fly.  Cory watched these with us and a week later remembered that it took them 4 flights to get a good one.

A picture of me, see, I was there!

This was the lunar lander and we caught the end of a presentation by a tour guide here.  I was super curious about the what looks like orange tinfoil so I asked him.  It is in fact mylar (just like our helium balloons - so many things we have now came from NASA!) and anywhere you see it there were sensitive instruments behind that they were protecting from the sun's particles. 

This is one of the real landers, but not the one that went to the moon.  There were I think 12 if I remember correctly so that they could test them, but the first one succeeded so they just went for the mission.

This is also a test version of the Hubble Space Telescope.

After this we headed over to the Museum of Natural History and walked through a sculpture garden in between.

Version: I Married a Goofball

Allison's friend Echo met us there and so we convinced her to take a group photo.  Yay!
Incidentally we didn't plan to be color coordinated by family...

Noah thought it was all cool

We ate dinner at the cafe in the museum (gross and overpriced) and since we had walked by the dinosaurs to get there I was excited to go back... but not so, Cory.  He pretty much refused to go back into the room where the big ones were.  I don't think he realized before hand just how big they were going to be in "real life" and he was scared of them.

Eventually we headed upstairs to find the Hope Diamond.  It got a new setting recently for an anniversary.  This setting is called Embracing Hope.  It's only temporary though and eventually it will go back into the original setting which looks more like a brooch.

Before this there was a gallery of a natural world photography contest.  Some of the pictures were absolutely stunning!

And beyond the Hope Diamond was a gallery with many famous settings of jewelry and then a gallery about minerals and gems and then one about mining.  Me thinks we went through that section backwards!

And then it was closing time and they had guards coming through to herd us out.  I did manage to get one last photo from the second floor.  This elephant is the first thing you see when you come in from the Mall side and it's really awesome.

After a very full day we headed back to Baltimore, but not before driving the wrong way which accidentally took us by the Washington Monument again allowing me to get my best shot of it at sunset.

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